PGA Tour Stuns Las Vegas Founders With Announcement of New Las Vegas Host Organization

April 24, 2007–UPDATED STORY. 11:00 AM PST. The PGA Tour announced that the Las Vegas Founders, the host organization for the PGA Tour's FRYS.com Open, are out and the Shriners Hospitals for Children are in, effective immediately. The announcement was posted on PGATOUR.com before the paid staff of the Las Vegas Founders were made aware of the change, and news of the change came in to key members of the Las Vegas Founders with very little, if any, notice before the news went public. According to sources, The Las Vegas Founders Golf Foundation committee held an emergency meeting in the evening to determine the exact ramifications of the announcement. The event had been on shaky ground for years due to sponsorship problems, but the Las Vegas Founders still managed to raise more than $2 million for charity in 2006, giving money to several organizations including more than $500,000 to the Nevada Cancer Institute. Las Vegas Founders Golf Foundation Chairman Tim Cashman issued the following statement:

"The Las Vegas Founders, the host organization of the PGA TOUR tournament in Las Vegas for 24 consecutive years, was disappointed to learn late Monday of the PGA Tour’s decision to change host organizations for the 2007 Frys.com Open. Made up of local business and community leaders, The Founders have generated more than $15 million (not $10 million as listed in the PGA Tour press release) dedicated specifically towards local Las Vegas charities in our long and successful history. In 2006 alone, with the help of the T.A. Morton family, the Founders donated $2.1 million to local charities. The Founders thank the staff, volunteers, sponsors and long-time tournament director Charlie Baron for their tireless efforts and commitment in producing world-class events each year. Our commitment to improving the quality of life for all of us that make Las Vegas our home will be ongoing and we look forward to continuing our efforts in the future."

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem released the following statement:

 

"We are absolutely delighted to welcome Shriners Hospitals for Children as the new host organization in Las Vegas. Shriners Hospitals are known throughout the world for the outstanding medical services and support they provide to children and their families. They will be an ideal, involved partner in driving significant awareness and charitable support for the Frys.com Open benefiting Shriners Hospitals for Children, and will increase the impact we have in the Las Vegas community. At the same time, we'd like to thank the Las Vegas Founders Club for its involvement and support since 1983. We sincerely appreciate the efforts they have made over the years to stage a high quality TOUR event while also generating over $10 million for Las Vegas-area charities."

In a letter to Las Vegas Founders members, president Ken Gardner wrote that the group would continue to support its American Junior Golf Association event in June, and will evaluate how the Las Vegas Founders can continue to give back to the community as it has for more than 25 years.

It has been mentioned that PGA Tour management had been putting pressure on the Las Vegas Founders to increase attendance at the event, and do other things to ensure their association with the tournament. However, word was that the Las Vegas Founders had secured an agreement moving forward for 2007, and were looking to the future with excitement. In the letter to the membership, Gardner mentioned that the Founders were moving forward with all planning for 2007 and beyond.

The event's new name will be the FRYS.com Open benefitting the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and will be played the week of October 10.

A member of the group called the announcement, a "blindside" by the PGA Tour.

Brian Hurlburt, the writer, is a member at large of the Las Vegas Founders, but isn't a member of the Las Vegas Founders Golf Foundation Executive committee.

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